Symbian Lost As Many Users As Android Gained In Europe, Says ComScore

Interesting stats out today from comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) that underscore just how clear the threat is to Nokia (NYSE: NOK) from Android: the researchers note in the last year in Europe, the number of Android phones in use grew by nearly the same amount that Symbian phones declined. As with the seemingly unstoppable march of Android, the growth in smartphones shows no sign of slowing down, either: over the last year the number in circulation grew by 44 percent.

ComScore’s MobiLens research takes its data from online surveys of people over the age of 13 in the top-five markets in Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. It found that in the three-month period ending in July 2011, some 88.4 million mobile subscribers in those countries reported using smartphones.

In something of a statistical coincidence, researchers found that usage of Android and Symbian phones respectively grew and declined by nearly the same percentage: Android’s share went up by 16.2 percent, while Symbian’s share went down by 16.1 percent. Despite that, Symbian remains the region’s most popular smartphone OS, accounting for 37.8 percent of all devices — although that’s a big drop from the 53.9 percent share a year ago. Android has lept to number-two position, with 22.3 percent of all smartphones, a huge jump from the six percent share it had a year ago.

Although Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is a close third to Android with 20.3 percent, it appears that its growth has stalled somewhat: it’s rise was only 1.2 percent — lower than RIM’s at 1.5 percent. Many expect Apple to launch at least one new device before the end of this year, which should reignite Apple’s growth in the quarters ahead.

And — I am starting to feel like a broken record with this one — Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) once again is reported to be losing some market share for its smartphone OS, the second-biggest decline in the rankings after Symbian, with a drop of 4.8 percent. It also swapped places with RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) for the smallest market share for a smartphone OS in the region. (That Mango is as ripe as it will ever be for picking, it seems.)

OEM shares. Among Android OEMs, HTC is taking the lead in the EU5 with a 34.6 percent share, while Samsung in second position at 31.7 percent. That’s the reverse of what is unfolding in the U.S. and the wider world, where Samsung is the leading Android maker. From comScore’s numbers, it looks like HTC’s pole position comes from its huge strength in the UK market. It commands a 50 percent share of all Android smartphones in the UK, but Samsung is the leader in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Worth noting, too, that in the EU5, Motorola (NYSE: MMI) has a very small share of the Android market — only 3.6 percent. That points to the challenge that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) might have in the region as the would-be owner of Motorola Mobility.

In all, comScore says that Android devices accounted 19.7 million of all smartphones in the EU5, with the UK ranking the highest among them at 6.3 million.

In terms of what users are doing on their smartphones, it looks like they are continuing to text more than anything else (82.5 percent reported texting). Using the mobile browser just slightly edged out using apps on devices: 26.2 percent versus 25.3 percent. Meanwhile, games and music were dead even at 24.6 percent.

Full tables below: